There’s still only one car that’s broken the sound barrier and it’s been 26 years

  • On 15 October 1997, Thrust SSC managed to achieve speeds of 763 miles per hour
  • Thrust SSC needed to deploy a parachute to slow down and stop
  • The record-breaking ride has yet to be beaten by another vehicle

Published on Feb 08, 2024 at 9:21 PM (UTC+4)
by Adam Gray

Last updated on Feb 14, 2024 at 6:23 PM (UTC+4)
Edited by Amelia Jean Hershman-Jones

When you think of breaking the sound barrier, Concorde and military jets spring to mind.

But it’s a little-known fact that a car once broke the sound barrier.

It happened 26 years ago, and it’s the only car to ever do it.

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The car in question is the Thrust SSC or Thrust SuperSonic Car.

On 15 October 1997, Thrust SSC broke the world ground speed record by managing to achieve speeds of 1,228 km/h (763 mph) in the Black Rock Desert, Nevada, USA.

The record was set by former British Royal Air Force pilot, Andrew Green.

According to the Guinness World Records, Green described Thrust SSC at 500-600 miles per hour as “a massive handful, bordering on uncontrollable.”

“The two huge booms that rang out over the site during Andy’s outward and return run sent his crew into spontaneous cheers – though because he was actually inside the vehicle that caused those sonic booms, he couldn’t hear them himself,” the Guinness World Records further explained.

“Green had driven faster than any other person in history. What’s more, his record-breaking ride came 50 years and one day after the sound barrier was first broken, by Chuck Yeager (USA) in a rocket plane, the Bell X-1.”

Fast forward to today, and the Thrust SSC isn’t doing much racing.

Instead, it’s on display in the Coventry Transport Museum in Coventry, England, where it can be viewed by the public.

That being said, it still remains one of the most exceptional cars ever built.

The next time we’re likely to see supersonic speeds being reach, it’ll probably be by one of the supersonic jet projects in progress, or even the revolutionary submarine being created by the US Navy.

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Adam Gray

Adam Gray is an experienced motoring journalist and content creator based in the United Kingdom. Using his media accreditation with manufacturers’ press offices, Adam test drives the latest cars and attends new vehicle press launches, producing written reviews and news pieces for Before joining the Supercar Blondie team, Adam was Motoring Editor for Portfolio North magazine, North East Motoring Editor at Reach plc, and provided motoring content on a freelance basis to several lifestyle and business publications in the North of England. When he’s not behind the wheel of the latest car, Adam can be found at his local rink playing ice hockey or supporting his beloved Middlesbrough FC.